Am I that demanding? All I want is a little moderation. This May was the one of the wettest on record and now I’m running the sprinkler most days in an attempt to keep things growing, as we have had delightful hot sunny weather for at least two weeks. Some rain, some sun would be nice. I have, in the garage, all the parts for an irrigation system to service the vegetable portion of the garden. They aren’t much good in that location but when the garden was clear and easy to work in this spring, it was also practically underwater, so I could not work in it. I was also not highly motivated to be outside installing an irrigation system while it was pouring rain. The system uses the porous hoses that dribble water directly onto the ground near the plants that need it and it would be much more effective than the overhead sprinkler and use far less water. Maybe I’ll see if I can work it in between the growing plants. That would ensure several days of rain. One of my structures is working as planned. The pea fence is loaded with Sugar Snap Peas at least 2 M tall and we are enjoying plates of them for dinner most nights. The Sweet Peas that were interplanted with them are also in full bloom and the fragrance is wonderful. I can pick dinner and the table centre flowers all at the same time.
Why do I seem to have a preference for plants that can have significant problems? I really prefer my true Lilies to the daylilies. Maybe it’s the reward for weeks of chasing and squishing the red lily bug. The earliest of these wonderful bulbs, the Asiatic and Trumpet Lilies are rising above the slightly bug eaten leaves to put on an amazing display of colours and forms. Each stem does not last as long as a Daylily clump but all of the flowers on that stem will eventually all be open at the same time creating a massive show of colour. The finished flower clusters will be cut off to prevent seed development that might take away from the regeneration of the bulbs. I was speaking to a group in Paris, a small town in SW Ontario, this past weekend and they had no idea what I was talking about when I was lamenting the invasion of the red Lily bugs. Apparently those crimson creatures have not made it to their part of the world as yet. Could make one consider moving but to where? The western half of N. America does not have the Iris Borer.
The Daylilies are in full bloom. The first one appeared a few days ago and now they are everywhere. A new variety opens each day and makes the morning wander through the garden a wonderful time. Oh look! Now that one’s my favourite! A little gentle deadheading creates time at each clump to stop and appreciate its colours and form. One of the joys of Daylilies, Hemerocallis spp is their almost complete freedom from significant bugs and diseases. They can also be dug and divided at almost any time in the growing season. It is best in the spring when they are emerging but can also be successfully dug even in the middle of their blooming period.
Breakfast is also becoming a much nicer part of the day. Poured my bowl of cereal this morning and then went out and covered it with a thick layer of ripe red Raspberries. This will be a daily treat for a few weeks as the various varieties of Raspberries ripen. There are even a few autumn bearing types developing nicely to refresh the experience in September and October. Right now I sit on the very shady patio, listening to the gentle splash of the adjacent waterfall and eat my bright red treats in quiet comfort. My neighbour has a thicket of Black Raspberries that hang over our fence and I help him out by picking the ones on my side of the fence. A delightfully different flavour from the red ones, just in case they get boring.
This morning I was in the basement again, planting seeds. All of the cool weather vegetables such as Broccoli, Kohl Rabi, Cauliflower and Pak Choi, are being started now and will be planted out as soon as they are ready, to bring new taste sensations to our dinner plates from September to November. Also a fresh batch of Lettuce is being started to keep us in salad through the cooler days of the fall.
Time to answer a few questions and then get back into the garden. If you have a gardening question just ‘reply’ to this newsletter and send me your query. I try to answer most of the questions and the ones that I answer here are those that I think will have the widest interest. You can also find the latest garden updates on the front page of gardening-enjoyed .
Lynda Asks ? After careful research we chose a 'Skyline' Honeylocust to provide dappled shade on our south lawn (full sun). We've had the tree barely 3 yrs and it's very healthy, putting on 4-6' of new growth by June.
Perhaps that's the cause of our problem though. The first year, it had just been planted & all went well. But in June of 2010 & 2011, we had a heavy wind and rain storm. Each time we woke to find our beautiful tree bent over double with it's top touching the ground. This second episode involved a tree now 25' tall with a 3-4" diam. trunk! The tree was also supported with a 5' stake and a guy wire attached at 8' ht. In forming this perfect U-shape not a single branch broke or cracked! The flexibility that causes this problem also seems to save it from complete disaster. For 2nd yr in a row, we've cut off the new grow & pulled it upright with a rope & stake.
Now we are asking ourselves if we're doing something wrong or have made a bad choice: a tree that won't hold it's own weight and needs deforming pruning each year is a poor investment of time & effort. Thanks for any suggestions you might have.
Ken Answers! This question really intrigued me. What Lynda is describing just didn’t seem to make sense. “Dallying In The Dirt,” is read over a wide geographic area but this strange query just happened to come from people who live two streets away from me so I went over to have a look. The tree is perfectly healthy and it would seem big enough to stand up on its own but I could see that it had in fact, bent over in the wind. I have no answer but a speculation on what might be the problem. The tree is planted in the middle of a very healthy lawn with the grass coming almost to the base of the tree. Maybe the good health of the lawn, probably due to the high nitrogen in most lawn fertilizers, is the problem. The tree could be growing as rapidly as it is as a result of all that nitrogen but this could also make the tree very soft and flexible, thus allowing it to bend so readily. Maybe making a reasonable sized flower bed under the tree would keep most of its roots away from the lawn fertilizer and help with the problem. Not fertilizing the lawn is another option but that would have other consequences.
Judie Asks? Quite enjoy your newsletter. Can you suggest a book on pruning..I have a lilac (twice blooming type) that I would like to train/prune similar to your rose tree.
Ken Answers! I really don’t know of a good pruning book although I’m sure there are several. They may not address such specialized topics as creating standards out of shrubs. The instructions for my Treerose should be applicable to your Lilac and allow you to start developing it into a small tree. Enjoy the experience.
Elizabeth Asks? Reading this newsletter produced an "ah hah" moment. Last year I planted a peony bought at a nursery. It looks a good size this year
with lots of leaves and about 18-20 inches across. BUT there are no flowers or even flower stalks. You mention that this will happen if one has planted it too deep. So what now? Does one dig up the whole thing and try again? Now when it is in full leaf or at some other time?
Ken Answers! You don’t have to quite dig up the whole thing but you do need to raise the crown somehow. Think about it until mid September and then gently remove some of the soil from the crown so that the buds are closer to the surface. If it is quite deep this may not be a practical solution as the hole you create may just fill in again. The other solution is to dig all around it, until the roots are just loose and then gently raise them, adding soil underneath to make sure that it stays at the new height. It should grow and perform well next season if it is not too badly disturbed.
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